The contribution comes at a crucial time when UNRWA is deploying intensive fundraising efforts, to increase its coverage of tertiary healthcare services to Palestine refugees living in Lebanon. This is the first substantial contribution to the new appeal, and demonstrates Australia’s ongoing support for UNRWA and the Palestinian community. Thanks to such generous contributions, effective from 1 May 2011, the average coverage has increased from 30 per cent to 40 per cent.
For the past two years, UNRWA has recognised the need to improve its hospitalisation services as a fair demand given the high costs in hospital care and given that Palestine refugees in Lebanon remain excluded from health insurance and social security.
The Agency almost fully covers secondary hospitalisation services, which account for 85 per cent of total hospital admissions. Tertiary care services, a more technologically sophisticated form of hospitalisation, are provided in 15 contracted hospitals and are covered only partially by the Agency.
Announcing the contribution, Australia’s Ambassador to Lebanon, H.E. Mr Lex Bartlem said: “I commend UNRWA’s commitment to providing essential health services to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. During a recent visit to Burj Barajneh refugee camp, I met a number of adults and children suffering from chronic illnesses. I found their living and health conditions very disturbing. Obviously, poor health has a negative impact on individuals, but can also impact significantly on families and the broader community.”
Mr Bartlem added: “I hope that the assistance provided by the Australian government will help to minimize the unnecessary suffering of Palestinian refugees, many of whom lack alternative health care options. Investing in health helps people to expand their range of choices, improve their productivity and participate more fully in society.”
Thanking AusAID for their support, the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Salvatore Lombardo said: “This is a very important donation for our tertiary health care services, which has enabled us in 2011 to provide more support to Palestinian patients, including raising the ceiling per hospital admission for tertiary care from $2,000 to $3,000. For UNRWA in Lebanon, health remains the most critical service we provide. Improving its quality is our main ambition today.”
The Australian Government is a long-standing donor to UNRWA. This contribution brings Australia’s total financial assistance to UNRWA operations in the five fields this financial year to AUD 14.5 million. The Australian Government has donated AUD 3.5 million (representing over US$ 3 million) to Nahr el-Bared Camp relief and reconstruction operations since the crisis began.
For further information please contact:
UNRWA Public information officer in Lebanon